Shopping for Ballroom Dresses: What Options are Available to You


Shopping for ballroom dresses is a little more complicated than shopping for ordinary clothes. It’s more than likely you need one for a special occasion and you wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing an ill-fitting ballroom dress or a poorly designed piece that hugs you in all the wrong places.

The key here is time. Give yourself plenty of time to find that perfect ballroom dress. Do not wait until the last minute. If you are joining a dance competition, it is even more imperative to make an intelligent purchase, as dancing in the wrong ballroom dress will definitely cost you.


There is a wide range of ballroom dress styles to choose from and it would greatly aid your shopping if you first take the time to browse through several catalogs for inspiration. Should it be a long, full skirt or short and daring? Do you want it bare-back or all covered-up? Do you prefer plenty of decorative accents like fringes, ruffles and even sequins and stones?

Know which ballroom dress style will work for you, one which will enhance your best features, conceal your trouble spots and highlight your best moves on the dance floor. Consider your body type and your dancing skills. Do not fall into the trap of choosing a style that looks and works well on someone else.


Certain materials used in ballroom dresses especially those for dancing are designed to follow its wearer’s movements on the dance floor. Ordinary evening or party dresses no matter how fabulously designed are often made with materials that are just good to look at, not dance in. Good fabric blends are Acetate (90%) and Lycra (10%) or polyester (95%) and spandex (5%). Satin is a common fabric, but choose the best quality (meaning expensive) or it simply won’t last very long. Other fabric options are chiffon, silk and taffeta.

Accents or decorations are part of the dress material and should also be considered, especially for professional dancers. They add drama to certain dance moves. It’s like making the dress perform with the dancers. High quality fabrics and accents also add to the resale value of the ballroom dress, making the higher initial investment less painful to make.
Pre-owned, RTW or Custom-made

Ballroom dresses are available Pre-owned (2nd hand), Ready-to-Wear or Custom-made. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on where you’re coming from.

• Pre-owned: Find out how old the dress is or how many times it has been used. Is it in good condition? Check for tears and stains. Get the exact measurements, not just its size.

• Ready-to-Wear: Buy from someone who has been in the business of creating ballroom dresses for a long time. Experience counts for a lot. What you see is pretty much what you get but find out if minor alterations are possible without ruining the dress.

• Custom-made: This option can be a bit pricey but is probably best for those who have very specific design requirements. Work with an experienced and reliable dressmaker who specializes in ballroom dresses, preferably one who is highly recommended by satisfied customers.

Style, material and availability options are by no means the only ones to consider when shopping for a ballroom dress but they provide a solid foundation from which you can begin your search. Remember to listen to suggestions from other people, too. Two or more heads are often better than one.

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